Catering and Hospitality Career Guide

Few sectors are as varied, challenging, and rewarding as the catering and hospitality sector. Many roles in this industry are renowned for being tough, with demanding hours – but the high returns in job satisfaction and career prospects are often worth the effort. As a result, this industry is well suited to those with that enjoy working with people, facing and overcoming challenges, and that thrive in high energy environments.
A table laid out at a restaurant with food and snacks.

Potential Roles in Catering and Hospitality


There are hundreds of potential jobs in the catering and hospitality sector, including everything from bar staff to catering contractors. We’ll take a look at three of the most popular and well-known roles, as these tend to have many transferrable skills between other positions in this sector. 

Events Managers both conceptualise and help execute events of varying scales. This could be anything from a business conference in a hotel, to a large scale company party, an awards ceremony, or anything in between. Many organisations tend to have their own in house events managers, and there are often roles available at hotel and leisure organisations, as well as cruise operators. 

Hotel Managers handle the day to day running of hotels both large and small. They are responsible for planning and executing the overall strategy of the hotel’s services, and are accountable for the financial management of the building. Especially large hotels can have multiple managers, which offers a greater degree of specialisation if you’re considering a long term career. 

Chefs are found in almost every part of this sector, thanks to the fact that food is almost always a crucial part of any hotel, leisure complex, cruise, or event. Arguably one of the most challenging roles in this sector at entry-level, it can also be one of the most rewarding – talented chefs can end up owning and operating their own restaurants, and have the potential to win international renown.

Salary and Career Progression


The Catering and Hospitality sector does arguably have some of the largest disparity in wages between entry-level and senior roles compared to some other industries. This can make it challenging when you first start. Below is a rough idea of what to expect if you pursue a career in the roles mentioned above, although do note these amounts can vary based on organisation etc. 

Events Manager salaries generally start off at around £18,000 per year for junior and entry-level roles. Medium level jobs, and experience in the role, can lead to an annual salary of anything between £22,000 to £25,000. Top-level events managers can end up with a yearly salary of £35,000 plus, with £40k or over possible for the most experienced and talented. 

Hotel Managers tend to start their careers off at managerial assistant level, which means a rough salary of £19 -20,000. This can be higher, however, and is dependant on the size of the hotel and business. Some entry-level salaries can be as high as £40,000 per year, but it’s best to temper your initial expectations overall. Established and mid-senior level hotel managers tend to bring home around £30,000, although again, this is highly dependant on the situation. At the top of their game, hotel managers at a prestigious hotel in a major city can earn upwards of £50-100,000, and even higher in some circumstances. 

Chefs can expect to start on some of the lowest overall salaries in the sector (the flip side to this is that getting into this field is potentially easier, as we’ll see later). A commis chef can earn £12,000 at worst, and £15-16,000 per year at best. Moving up to a sous chef or equivalent position, earning potential can increase to £20-30,000. Head chefs tend to earn in the region of £25,000 minimum, although this can increase to £50,000 or higher depending on the venue and company they work for. 

Qualifications, Education and Experience


There is no single set path to becoming an Events Manager, especially where further education is concerned. It is perfectly feasible to get into this field without any formal qualifications, although degrees/HNDs in the following subjects can certainly be helpful:

  • Event Management
  • Event Planning
  • Leisure and Tourism
  • Marketing
  • Business
  • Catering Management

Hotel Managers can also generally work their way up with experience or as part of an apprenticeship scheme. Having some educational backup is always advantageous of course. The following HND or degree-level qualifications are certainly likely to be beneficial in your career as a Hotel Manager, for example:

  • Hotel or Hospitality Management
  • Hospitality Business Management
  • International Hotel Management

Chefs also tend to start at lower-level positions in a kitchen before working their way up through experience, but there are benefits to having some qualifications before starting your career. The courses and qualifications below can be useful in terms of teaching basic professional skills and food handling techniques which can be of practical value in a professional space:

  • Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Degree in Professional Cookery
  • Certificate in Commercial Cookery

Sound engineers get ready to test the audio system at an event while the events manager checks the stage.

Skills


Events Managers will need the following skills to be successful:

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to be diplomatic and solve conflicts
  • Negotiation 
  • Self-motivated
  • Enthusiastic
  • Budget allocation and management
  • Target driven
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Project management
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Administration and IT literacy

Hotel Managers will benefit from the following skills:

  • A friendly a welcoming attitude
  • Customer service 
  • Leadership
  • Decision making
  • Excellent written and verbal communication 
  • Patience and the ability to listen
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Well presented
  • Able to communicate in different languages
  • Planning and organisation
  • Able to stay calm under pressure

Chefs should make sure to hone these skills for a kitchen focused career:

  • Adaptability
  • Able to work under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Self-motivation
  • Communication 
  • Understanding of food safety, preparation, and hygiene
  • Technical cooking skills
  • Working knowledge of other languages (especially French)

Working Hours


Given the nature of the Catering and Hospitality industry, many roles have unsociable hours factored into their schedules at some point. 

Events Managers have perhaps the most predictable hours on average, normally being required to work standard office hours (such as 9-5) for the majority of the time. That said, the times before, during, and after events will usually require extra hours. Given the nature of events, this can mean working on weekends, evenings, or very early starts. Conversely, part-time roles in events management are also quite common, which can help to balance the need for unsociable working times. 

Hotel Managers will more often than not be working shift patterns, may of which will run over weekends, public holidays, and into the early hours. Shifts will vary depending on the location and size of the hotel, but you should generally expect to have constantly altering work patterns. From time to time hours may fall into the standard 9-5 pattern, but overall most Hotel Managers can work at least 12 hours a day up to six days a week. 

Chefs working hours can also be long and arduous, but rewarding. Split shifts can be common, as well as early starts to make sure ingredients are prepped and ready for service. Hours will generally revolve around service times – lunch and dinner in most restaurants – but this can vary depending on the venue (some hotels may offer 24-hour room service, for example, requiring kitchen staff to be present at all hours). Generally speaking 40 hours a week is the minimum most chefs will work in a week, with many pushing 50 to 60. 

Notable Locations


One advantage about the Catering and Hospitality sector is that unlike many others, opportunities are fairly equally split between the country and city locations. Some areas of note to consider if you’re looking for a career in catering or hospitality include:

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Leeds
  • The Cotswolds
  • The Lake District
  • Oxfordshire
  • Cornwall
  • Brighton
  • The Channel Islands
  • Edinburgh

There are many other locations, of course, thanks to the fact the UK has so many large country spas, estates, and manor houses dotted across the countryside. 

Notable Companies


Some of the most prestigious and well-known companies to consider for aspiring chefs, event managers, and hotel managers alike. many of these can also offer international opportunities. It’s also worth noting that event managers and chefs can often find job opportunities outside this sector, especially in large corporations that have regular events:

  • Accor
  • Intercontinental Hotel Group
  • Whitbread
  • Travelodge
  • Hilton (and associated brands)
  • Warner Leisure
  • Hotel Du Vin
  • Wahaca
  • Carluccios Ltd
  • Leon Restaurants
  • The Restaurant Group
  • Gordon Ramsay Holdings

Next Steps


Now you know what you need for a career in the Catering and Hospitality sector, see what catering and professional chef opportunities are currently listed on JobLookup, as well as what jobs and apprenticeships are currently available in events.  

If you need help with the more general aspects of your job search, then make sure to register with JobLookup today to set up job email alerts, and read through our Ultimate Jobseeker Guide for additional help with your jobsearch

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